Indiana Jones and the Peril of the Insane Fanboys

It was bound to happen, really.

I mean, when they announced Indy 4, you could practically feel the electric glee emanating from that certain class of Fanboy across the internet. You know the kind I mean - the ones who, once Revenge of the Sith had come and gone back in 2005, figured they would never again have the opportunity to type "George Lucas raped my childhood!" again. And then there was Indy 4.

I've read more than a few negative reviews of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull over the last couple of weeks. And of course, people are perfectly entitled to like or dislike the movie. It is, as I observed, certainly the weakest of the cinematic adventures of the good Dr. Jones.

But there is a certain class of movie-goer - the Fanboy - who works by an entirely different set of rules. To the Fanboy, there are only two kinds of movies - The Best Movie Ever (which almost never happens) and Absolute Garbage. And if it's Absolute Garbage, well...if it weren't bad enough that it's a bad movie, that also makes it "an Insult to the Fans," which is (in the eyes of the Fanboy) the worst offense any creative type can commit. I suspect that many of the Fanboys went in - put down their $10, no less - not only expecting but hoping to dislike the movie, because it would give them something to bitch and moan about on their message board of choice, and one more opportunity to recite the Fanboy Mantra, "George Lucas raped my childhood."

The most frequent refrain I've heard in the negativity surrounding Crystal Skull has to do with the scene wherein Shia LaBeouf's character pulls a trick out of Tarzan's book, swinging through the jungle on vines, surrounded by monkeys.

This is the moment that exemplifies what makes this movie terrible, I guess. This is where it lost those last few Fanboys who were still hanging in there. Because...well, I'm not sure why. Because it's implausible? Because it's unbelievable? Because it makes them think of Tarzan? I don't know.

In my original review, I mentioned a couple of things about the opening of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Let's go back and take a look at that scene again, shall we?

So Indy and Crew make their way to some sort of hidden, ancient temple. As Indy and Dr. Octopus make their way into the temple's depths, Indy says, "Stop. Stay out of the light!" Confirming his suspicion, Indy sticks his hand into the shaft of sunlight that illuminates the temple's gloomy interior. Instantly, deadly spikes pop out of the wall, which would have impaled them if they had blindly entered that shaft of light. That's right...the ancient Incas (or whoever) constructed a death trap that was triggered by entering the shaft of light. This is followed, of course, by Indy accidentally triggering the trap when he removes the idol from the altar (and of course, we all remember from school when we learned about the Incas' ingenious counterweight-triggered death traps, right?), leading to him being chased out of the tunnel by a giant, perfectly spherical boulder ten feet in diameter.

So...Mutt pulling a Tarzan stretches the bounds of plausibility...but the very first appearance of Indiana Jones does not?

Everyone's also complaining about Indy escaping from a nuclear blast by climbing into a lead-lined refrigerator. Admittedly, at any of a half-dozen or so given points in that sequence, Indy ought to be dead. But he also survived the Ark of the Covenant's destruction of the Nazis not out of any special virtue or holiness or divine protection...but because he kept his eyes closed. Indy should be dead a hundred times over during the course of the first three movies...but he always manages to survive. That's kind of the point. To me, half the fun is the absurd ways he manages to survive the unsurvivable. Sit back, put yourself in the right mindset, and go with the flow.

That's the thing about the Fanboy. He's absolutely unable to even detect the flow, much less go with it. A Fanboy of my acquaintance was the type who couldn't stand The Lord of the Rings movies because they'd replaced Glorfindel with Arwen and cut out Tom Bombadil and the adventure with the Barrow-wights. Some friends were discussing the Revenge of the Sith trailer, thinking that it looked pretty good, and his sole contribution to the discussion was, "Oh, it's just going to be so insulting if this one is good!" Yes, because nothing is so insulting as a good movie.

The Fanboy can only nitpick. The Fanboy can only see Spider-Man and complain about organic web-shooters. The Fanboy can only see X-Men and complain that Wolverine and Storm weren't original members of the team. The Fanboy can only see Transformers and complain that Optimus Prime transforms into the wrong kind of truck. The Fanboy wears Rose Colored Glasses, remembering Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark as he first saw them, as a credulous child - but he's incapable of seeing Revenge of the Sith and Crystal Skull in the same way, because he's a jaded quasi-adult now. The Fanboy feels that anything that doesn't live up to his impossible standards isn't just bad - it's a personal slight.

No, I'm not trying to convince anyone who disliked Crystal Skull that they're wrong. I'm just saying that saying it's a bad movie for the reasons that the Fanboys are claiming without subjecting Raiders, or Temple of Doom, or Last Crusade to those same standards is insane. It's not so much that the Fanboy can't see the forest for the trees as that he can't see the trees for the pinecones, and is entirely unaware of the concept of the forest.

Or maybe he's just ignoring the forest because it's got Shia LaBeouf swinging through it on a vine.